The rights of a tenant in Dubai are well protected through the various rules and regulations announced.
However, when the ownership of the rented property changes (the apartment is sold), a tenant is unaware of his/her right.
In one case, AJ (name withheld on request), who had rented an apartment in Dubai Marina, was issued a notice by the property agent, on behalf of the new owner, seeking changes in the rent contract terms.
“I was sent a letter that said ‘I will have to bear the chilled water cost’. But my old contract put the onus of payment on the landlord.
“I challenged the notice and threatened to move to the dispute committee. Fortunately, my landlord agreed to pay the cost until the current contract expired,” he informed.
Toby Young, Managing Director, propertyrights.ae, confirmed to Emirates 24|7 that no part of a tenancy contract can be altered unless it is by mutual agreement.
“The tenants’ rights remain as they are throughout. Any changes in the terms and conditions of the tenancy contract can only be done upon expiry of a contract.”
Moreover, a landlord has to provide no less than a 90-day notice to make any changes.
Young clarifies below on tenant’s rights when there is a change in ownership of the apartment.
# Do the tenant need to sign a new rent contract with the new landlord after the property is sold by the earlier landlord?
No (Although it may suit both parties), if a property is sold then the contract automatically swaps to the new landlord, a tenants rights remain the same.
The old landlord and the new landlord should agree on what is due by either party. Ultimately the old landlord should pass everything over to the new landlord.
That includes the remaining rent and the deposit paid. If an eviction notice has been served, for it to remain valid it also needs to be transferred into the new landlord’s name. This can be done via a power of attorney on the eviction notice.
# What is the case in these two scenarios: Where the old contract is registered with Ejari and where the contract isn’t registered?
Everyone by law should register for Ejari. The Ejari remains in place on the property even after a new landlord has bought the property. For the sake of good order, a new landlord can ask to have the Ejari amended or sign-up for a new one. If a property is not Ejari registered, then it can be with the new landlord’s details.
# Can the new landlord add new terms and conditions to the existing agreement?
No. No part of a tenancy contract can be altered unless it is by mutual agreement. The tenant’s rights remain as they are throughout. Any changes in the terms and conditions of the tenancy contract can only be done upon expiry of a contract. Even then a landlord still needs to provide no less than 90 days’ notice of these changes. The changes will only come into effect once a new tenancy contract is signed and the changes mentioned within it.
# If the 12-month eviction notice is served by the old landlord to the tenant, does the tenant and new landlord sign a new rent contract for the period between the expiry of the existing contract and date for vacating the apartment?
Yes, although tenancy contracts do automatically rollover. This will take the tenant up to the date of the eviction notice. If an eviction notice is served by an old landlord, the new landlord needs to ensure they have a court mandated power of attorney over the eviction notice. If not, when the notice comes to be served it will not be in the legal owners name and thus unenforceable. If a new annual (i.e. not short term) contract is signed after an eviction notice is served, then the eviction notice becomes invalid.
Read: Dubai Tenants Guide: Should you pay property agent's fee on rent renewal?